Homily for the fourteenth Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 6:1-6
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching."
"Jesus went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him."
Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, there is one thing everyone desires above all: knowledge. You will immediately tell me that I am wrong, and that it is money which everyone desires above all else today. This is partly true. But he who has money, even a great deal of money, what will he do with it? Will he keep it in a safe? Will he hide it in the ground like the unfaithful servant (cf. Mt. 25:25)? No, certainly not. He who has money will make it bear fruit, in order to have more. At the very least, he will make sure his money does not lose value through inflation and will invest it at the highest possible interest rate. But all this requires a certain amount of knowledge, a good knowledge of the investment of money. And he who has very great sums of money will do whatever it takes to find collaborators with sufficient knowledge to help him make his capital bear as much fruit as possible.
Knowledge! That is the false god of our world today! In fact, there is nothing new in this. What took place in the terrestrial Paradise, in the Garden of Eden where God had placed Adam and Eve? The devil, in the form of a snake, tempted Eve and, through her, Adam, to eat the fruit of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gn. 2:9): "But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' " (Gn. 3:4-5). After having sinned by disobeying the Lord, Adam and Eve lost all the exceptional gifts that God had given them. And the principal gift that they lost was related to their sin. Indeed, they lost the gift of infused knowledge, which allowed them to know everything intimately and to give each being its name, that which expresses all its essence: "The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field." (Gn. 2:20)
So, for as long as humanity has walked in misery on the paths of penitence, awaiting the final and definitive Redemption, there has not been one man or woman who does not seek, with more or less skill, to overcome this handicap of lost knowledge. However, everyone knows one thing: it is necessary to work long and hard to achieve perfect knowledge of even a tiny fraction of the immense amount of data that makes up all that is known and that ever will be known. When someone says: "I am very knowledgeable about this or that", is one not tempted to reply at once: "Yes, but that's nothing compared to what you don't know!" And we've seen this: when a man or woman displays his or her knowledge, our reaction is very quick and strong, and envy immediately erupts within us, and may perhaps push us to the worst excesses...
What then should we think of the event about which the Gospel speaks this Sunday? Is it strange that Jesus is not truly welcomed in his own country? This carpenter, this Jesus whom everyone has known for more than thirty years, teaches in the synagogue, speaking like a doctor of the Law, and with a wisdom no one had ever seen before? And, worse yet, everyone present knows very well that this Jesus never studied in the great schools of Jerusalem! No, really, it is too much! He should have at least displayed his diplomas and his certificates of study! But no! Really, it is too much! And the inhabitants of Nazareth ask themselves serious questions concerning the origin of such knowledge: "And they were perplexed about it." Envy is in all hearts, the devil is on the prowl...
"And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching."
A prophet can announce and foretell the future. But this is not his principal function. A prophet, a true prophet, one who is the envoy of God, is someone who speaks in the name of God: he serves as an intermediary between God and his People. The prophet thus has a certain knowledge which exceeds him, because it comes from God himself. Jesus is the Great Prophet par excellence: he is the Word of God, the incarnate Word of the Father. Jesus is the man who is at once God and man: he is the one who speaks to all of humanity the Word of God. Since God is infinite, his Word is infinite and it exceeds any simply human knowledge: only Christ, because he is God and man, perfectly understands and knows the Word of God.
However, knowledge of the Word of God is not reserved to Christ alone. On the contrary, it was in order to communicate this Word to us that the Son of God came to earth: at the price of his Blood poured out on the Cross of Calvary, and by the power of his Resurrection, Jesus, the Son of God, wants
to communicate to all men the Word that saves. But, since this Word exceeds our intelligence, there is but a single means through which we can receive it within us, in a supernatural manner: faith! For faith is a supernatural virtue which resides in the intelligence and which enables us to understand and to know a truth which exceeds us. It is first necessary that we believe, without humanly understanding and knowing, and then God, through his grace, clarifies our intelligence with the light of his truth.
Let us thank the Lord, during today's Eucharist, for the great gift of faith. Let us ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary, She who was the first to believe in the Word of God, to help us to always believe more and more in her Son Jesus. Let us do all we can so that, if the Lord were to suddenly come to visit us, he would not be astonished by our lack of faith, and would not stop granting us miracles, as in Nazareth. Let us be strong in the Holy Spirit: it is he who, in giving himself to us, transmits to us the Knowledge of God!